I’ve been thinking a lot about the current state of our affairs in self government, and the state of our nationwide experiment in being a Constitutional Republic. I’ve wanted to write this essay for several weeks now; however it has taken much contemplation to pull the different threads together into pattern that can be understood. I am still unsure if I can do this justice.
There is a saying that has been around for a long time, “Focus on the solution, not the problem”. I’ve tried to find the originator of this saying (not that I did exhaustive research) and it appears to be a modification from something Henry Ford said, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”. In my opinion, both of these sayings highlight our current dilemma regarding the healthcare debate. We are ALL focused on the immediate problem in front of us, trying to figure out a set of tactics that will defeat this legislation. Even when Erick points out the culpability of the GOP Senate leadership’s refusal to fight for their constituents, it is still a focus on the political “here and now”. It doesn’t look at the root causes leading to the incremental rising tide in state control of our lives, and the slow creeping destruction of Individual Liberty. More troubling, we aren’t focused on the solution. We are talking in terms of “taking back the House and Senate”, when we raise our heads above the fight to stop a specific piece of legislation. While those are important short term goals, they don’t solve the problem. Regaining control of the legislative branch will only be a stop gap against the incremental drive toward Statism. Every time we lose one of these fights, we lose a little more ground, never to regain it.
As Moe is fond of saying, “Elections have consequences”. But this is only a view of the current political environment. It is the problem, not the solution. If we do not fight EFFECTIVELY for our belief in a Constitutional Republic wielding limited federal powers, based on a strong capitalistic economic model, and guided by moral and ethical behavior; then we will eventually lose. If we win the next election, and there are not corresponding “consequences” for our political enemies, then victory will be meaningless. In short, it isn’t enough to FIGHT. We have to know what we a fighting for, in order to WIN.
An imagined discussion between Erick and Ace
As do many here at RedState, I also read Ace of Spades. While the tone between the two sites is vastly different, the guiding philosophies are similar. On December 10th and 11th, they individually posted pieces that addressed core philosophic issues regarding first principles and how to fight for them. (Noun vs. Adjective and Palin vs. Gore) While these posts aren’t really related, they touch on similar topics and I was curious how their beliefs would match against each other in a real discussion.
Erick: Here’s the thing, Ace, “Lately, we have collectively been saying a lot of people are conservatives, the noun, when we should be saying they are conservative, the adjective.” For example, “George W. Bush is not a conservative. He is conservative, but not a conservative. While Christianity has certainly always defined who George Bush is, conservatism has not. Put another way in which I think we can all agree, George W. Bush’s gut instinct is a conservative one, but the fiber of his being is not that of a conservative.”
Ace: I see what you mean Erick, I mean look at Sarah Palin’s fight against the global warming statists. “I don’t know if Sarah Palin really believes in AGW to the extent she says. She seems to say she does believe man’s activities may be affecting the environment, but then shoots down Copenhagen on cost/benefit principles. Does she really believe in it as much as she says?”
Ace: “See, it doesn’t matter. I kind of think she doesn’t believe in it much at all and is just saying she does. Which is the right thing to do. Belief in man-made global warming may be at an all-time low in the US, but it’s still at 49%. Forty-nine percent. Even with all this stuff being revealed, it’s at 49%. And the opposition is only at something like 27%. “Not sure” makes up the rest.”
Ace: “People beat up on conservative politicians for paying lip-service to this abject nonsense. Partisans get angry when politicians do not stake out ground closer to a true leadership position, out in front of the issue, making the points the partisans wish them to make. But that’s unrealistic and unwise. As I’ve said, politicians lead from the middle. If they’re smart, they do. When they are on the losing side of an issue — and yes, at this point, the skeptics are still on the losing side — you can’t really be out in front and swinging away as you can when you’re on the winning, popular side.”
Erick: That’s all well and good, Ace, but without a core set of values, what’s the point of winning? “We have a lot of people out there who call themselves conservatives who are not defined by their conservatism. Many Republicans who have conservative instincts, still put their party first. And that is where the relevance is — those more defined by their party put their party first and those more defined by their principles put their principles first. Compare and contrast say Jeb Hensarling with John Boehner or Jim DeMint with Mitch McConnell. Hensarling and DeMint are conservatives first and Republicans second. Boehner and McConnell are Republicans first and conservatives second. Hensarling and DeMint are more likely to fight for the principle and Boehner and McConnell are more likely to fight for an improved position for the party. That’s not to disparage Boehner and McConnell. Conservatism describes one aspect of them and if they can reconcile a conservative principle with improving their party’s position, they will not hesitate to do so.”
Ace: But, Erick, are they putting party first, or trying to find a way to win a larger fight? Going back to my global warming example, “Don’t focus endlessly on the “on one hand, on the other hand” nods in the direction of global-warming alarmism they might make. They are playing to the “not sures.”
Ace: “Separate rhetoric from concrete policy statements. And in the end, where philosophy meets the real world in the form of policy, they say something like, “This is such a cataclysmic risk to the Earth that we should immediately spend $3 billion to study it for five years and come up with recommendations about how to mitigate it,” don’t get mad that they just proposed wasting three billion dollars. Take satisfaction in the fact that what they are really saying is that it is worth three billion dollars of wasted money to appease the “not sures” and convince them we’re really doing something about this — hey, we’re “studying” it with an eye to “recommendations” — in order to halt the true cataclysmic threat to earth, the takeover of the world economy by UN kleptocrats and the massive destruction of wealth necessary to, basically, cut industry in half. (And never you mind about agriculture…). Just sayin’: There are fights you can win and fights you can delay, until maybe you can win them. The military thinks in these terms when it contemplates multifront wars: Some are true “Fights,” others will have to merely be “Holds.”
Erick: Well Ace, still “I think we conservatives need to do a better job of finding people to run for office who are defined as conservatives, not as party men. It is no secret in Washington and something I myself have experienced that the people who show the most contempt for pro-life activists are not leftists, but Republican establishment leaders who think that, like children, pro-lifers need to be seen and not heard. The establishment thinks life issues do not help advance the GOP. Conservative leaders, however, embrace pro-lifers. I want to beat the Republican Establishment. Charlie Crist is the perfect embodiment of the Establishment. One year he is anti-life. The next year he is pro-life. One day he is pro-stimulus. The next day he is anti-stimulus. But it is not just Crist. Across the nation, the Republican Establishment is support people who are not conservatives, but just have a conservative instinct (at least some of them do). Those instincts can change. It is much more difficult to change a total person than to change one attribute of that person. I want to beat these establishment guys with real conservatives. You cannot tell me that freedom does not sell in New England. Conservatives fight for freedom. Republicans fight for Republicanism, but I have no freaking clue what that actually means anymore.”
Ace: Well that is a nice sentiment, Erick, but at the end of the day, winning elections is what matters. “I think while other people are discussing la-di-dah philosophy and crap that wins elections on, perhaps, Planet Venus, Where the Dinosaurs Are, I’m talking about how to win right here right now in reality, on earth. If you think that saying what you mean and meaning what you say is always the way to win elections, that’s fine, and I appreciate that you have a sort of… well, I would call it a sort of quixotic belief in the fundamental fairness of the world and the power of honesty and plain talk. I don’t. I think people are faddish and shallow and largely uninformed and apathetic and too soft to make hard decisions and like parroting a pile of nonsense they hear from Oprah and other swell celebrity types. The polls tell me the stupid “not sures” want a candidate who says she too is “not sure” about global warming, and would like reassurance that she is “taking it seriously, with an open mind,” but would also like a candidate who ultimately says “but I don’t want to destroy the economy over it.”. No, I don’t want to sell us out, I just think some are a bit overly fond of the conceit that good behavior and honesty are rewarded in politics.”
Who are we fighting in this “long war”?
If you were a little uncomfortable reading the words of Erick and Ace played off against each other, then good. It is high time we recognize that this is a real war we are engaged in that has been underway for decades if not centuries. And we are losing. Both Erick and Ace are correct. It is important to realize what we are fighting for, but if we lose, we still lose. And the way the cards are being dealt to us, guarantees we will lose.
There are four ideological forces at work in the world today that are attempting to become the dominant philosophy and shape the course of mankind. They are Statism, Islamism, the Chinese Hegemony, and Individual Liberty. Conservatives represent the cause of Individual Liberty, and we are currently in 4th place. If it wasn’t for the fact that Kleptocracy is by definition a selfish expression of individual state governance, we would be trailing that, if counting the numbers of people for which it is a daily fact of life.
Statism – One of our largest mistakes was, in 1989, thinking that the fall of the Berlin Wall equated to the fall of communism. While the Russian experiment in Marxism failed, Statism had already established a firm hold. The original intent of the European Union was to define a single economic free trade zone that would allow greater efficiencies in conducting business between the member states. When was the last time you heard news from the EU regarding free trade? It quickly morphed (by accident of design) into a political engine driving Statist principles throughout all members. The EU now dictates what you can eat, who you can see if you are sick, what you can drive, and what you can think. It is the return of the East German Stasi, without the threat of prison. It is the model that is advocated by the UN as they establish and operate the Non Governmental Organizations. The NGOs operate as extra-national entities reportable to no one. They embody the philosophy of “elitism” where a small number of self determined elites decide what is best for the citizenry. It is nothing more than modern-day feudalism, where the defense the “Lord” provides for the peasants is no longer against the actual threat of armed invaders, but imagined threats of Climate Disasters. The ultimate goal is the establish a global governance structure that is post-national, run by self appointed elites, and funded by those of us in productive regions in the name of helping those in less productive regions.
Islamism – Unlike Statism, this force attempting to dominate the globe is founded on a religion. While the goals are similar, the methods are different. Proselytisism and Jihad are the tools of conversion to their religious ideal. If they succeed, their vision of the world isn’t much different from the Statists. Elites determined through national power struggles, and religious leaders will establish the rules by which we peasants will live. However, you really don’t want to be female or a homosexual if this becomes the global operating philosophy.
The Chinese Hegemony – I’ll be honest. I don’t understand the Chinese and what they are trying to accomplish. I think that their ultimate aim is to supplant the US and Japan as the industrial, technical, and economic global leaders. Given that 1/5th of the world population lives in China, and their success to date in growing their economy, while remaining a totalitarian state, then betting against them would seem unwise. We as a nation appear to be unwilling to challenge the Chinese ambitions, and are self delusional. For example, we talked our self out for the F-22 fighter on the excuse that the Chinese 5th generation fighter was at least 10 years away. The Chinese then announced that it will enter flight trials next year. To a lesser degree, India shares the Chinese goals, at least in their attempt to become a global economic giant.
Individual Liberty – This philosophy views the power of individual humans, conducting their lives and affairs freely, to be the best way to conduct human affairs. Under this model, individuals will determine for themselves how best to conduct their lives, and will, as a byproduct, engage in commerce, invention, art, and leisure that will provide for the common good. It is best nurtured by a light touch of government that protects against the baser human instincts to acquire what is desired through the exploitation of others. But to succeed this light governance must be conducted ethically and with humility. To encourage this, founding documents are established that outline the specific limitations on government, leaving the rest of human affairs to the free expression of individual industry. While Individual Liberty sounds noble on paper, in practice it is chaotic. This chaos is anathema to the basic human desire to provide order to a chaotic world. After all, we build square houses and roads using straight lines, while the dominant form in nature is the curve. In my opinion, this desire to bring order from chaos is the major human impetus that drives the success of Statism and Islamism. There are a lot of people in the world who desire order more than progress in the human condition.
The challenges we face
After the electoral victory in 2004, I was encouraged that we could continue forward to address some of the lingering problems our nation faces. Bush was right that the looming disaster of Social Security insolvency needs to be addressed. I thought that with 55 in the Senate, we would be able to craft a solution that addresses the problem. We would probably need to compromise with the Democrats, but some solution would be achieved. What I didn’t expect, which looks foolish in retrospect, was that the Democrat hatred for George Bush would trump their responsibility to the country. They were perfectly happy to obstruct the effort, then blame Bush in their quest for power, two years later.
This illustrates one of several structural challenges that we must overcome if we wish to advance Individual Liberty, rather than just win elections. In my view, the five major obstacles that must be overcome are human nature, incrementalism, fascism, government entrenchment, and demographics.
Human nature – There are inherent elements of the human psyche that discourage the practice of Individual Liberty as a governing principle, and also act as corrupting influences in our constitutional republic. I already mentioned one of these factors above, discussing the human desire to bring order from chaos, but there are others. Greed, expressed as a desire for wealth, sex, or power, is a naturally occurring facet of the human condition, and we should not be surprised to find that political leaders display these traits. Last night, while talking to my wife, I pointed out that my salary is pretty close to that of a Member of the House of Representatives. Yet in 20 years, I am unlikely to be worth millions, while those in office always are. Regardless of our rhetoric and desire for honesty and ethical behavior, the reality is that our leaders will always be tempted by greed, and a number of them will succumb to that temptation. Our success will hinge on mechanisms that limit the opportunities and impact of this natural impulse.
Another facet of human nature is religious imperative. Michael Crichton wrote an excellent piece a few years ago that compared the Environmental movement to a religion. It notes that anthropologists have found that certain common religious themes are found in all religious expression, and that the environmentalists express these exact themes. As with environmentalism, Statism also displays many of the same constructs. In fact, much of the rational for Statism today is wrapped in the dogma of the Church of Global Warming. Obviously, Islamism is also driven by the human religious imperative, and has the advantage of being well established and having existing political structure to better affect human behavior.
The final point of human nature I want to mention is guilt. I’ve struggled for years to understand why otherwise rational people become liberals, despite the obvious evidence that liberal policies are devastating in their effects. My wife is Jewish. When we first started dating, we talked a lot about the American Jewish community. As a lifelong Republican, I have always struggled to understand why Jews overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, despite the fact that the most staunch supporters of Israel are Republicans. What she explained is that the Jewish culture is defined by guilt. Part of this is due to historic economic success of the Jewish community, and part is survivor’s guilt related to the Holocaust. Regardless of the source, when Jews see social needs, they feel guilty about their own success and wish to address the need. Often this takes the form of philanthropy, but, despite the stereotype, most Jews are not wealthy. They naturally gravitate toward the entity that they view as being able to address the problem, the Government. Since the Democrat party is the natural home for comprehensive social programs, a vote for Democrats is a mechanism to assuage guilt. Keep in mind that Jews in Israel also display this trait. Other than the need for immediate self defense, the Israeli political environment is very socialistic. Guilt is one of the driving forces that explains why very wealthy people in New York and Hollywood donate and support the Democrat party, despite the resultant increase in taxation. Political donations are modern day indulgences. Coupled with a lack of awareness of the actual results of Democrat policies, support for expressed Democrat causes and political donations is an easy way to ease the guilt they feel about their own success. Intellectual discussion regarding policies is generally ineffective, since these activities are motivated through emotion. The emotional equation is “there is a problem that makes me feel bad” + “we must do something to assuage my guilt” + “Democrats are offering something” = “We must do what Democrats suggest”. The effectiveness of the plan, or whether or not in the larger context is makes sense to do anything, is not part of the equation.
Incrementalism – The danger of the current Healthcare legislation was expressed pretty well by Mark Steyn. “If “health care” were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it’s not about health or costs or coverage; it’s about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn’t matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it’s in place, it will be “reformed”, endlessly, but it will never be undone.” This is the inherent danger of political power in the hands of the Statists. The inevitable erosion of Individual Liberty is never undone. The Departments of Education, Energy, Homeland Security, and the EPA are not part of the enumerated powers of the federal government. They all intrude upon the traditional roles that were envisioned by the founders to be performed by the states or through private enterprise. However, despite GOP rhetoric, they are still here, and wield enormous power over the conduct of our affairs. What is taught to our children, our choices in energy use and modes of transportation, the products that we buy, and even our freedom to travel are all controlled by these governmental entities. To the Statists, it doesn’t matter if they lose the next election. They know that eventually another 2006 and 2008 will come around, and they will build on the foundation they have established. Once they establish that it is the federal government’s role to regulate and control 1/6th of our economy, they know that it will not be undone, even if they must wait 20 years for their next opportunity. The seeds for this takeover were established in the 60s with the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. This is just the next incremental step, and it will be followed by another and another and another, until they have reached their goal of the single payer model. The fact that the model is economically unsustainable due to demographics is irrelevant. This is driven by the emotional need to deal with the social problem of people not receiving medical treatment. The future doesn’t matter when you are satisfying the emotional wants of today.
William Buckley is famous for his definition of Conservatism, “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”. I’ve always been troubled by this quote, since it defines a purely defensive posture, which will inevitably fail. Without action to actively reverse the trend toward Statism, Individual Liberty will fail. Either as Statism continues to incrementally gain ground and governmental control, or after Islamism takes over the reins of the Statist apparatuses, or after the Chinese Hegemony rises to prominence and makes us all serfs to the debt we have accumulated. Victory in 2010 will be hollow if it doesn’t lead to actual reduction in government size and control.
Fascism – Many of the folks here at Redstate have been reading Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism. I was fortunate a year ago to have a chance to have drinks with Jonah and Mark Steyn and listen to them discuss some of the historical figures in the Socialist and Fascist movements. It is a testimony to their intelligence and sense of history, that they were discussing individuals who I have never heard of. But they have a keen grasp on their philosophies and contributions to political discourse of these individuals. Jonah’s definition of Fascism is quite accurate: the application of socialist doctrine within a single state, instead of globally. One of the hallmarks of Mussolini’s Italian Fascism was the nationalization of industries, so that they worked toward the benefit of the state, rather than the benefit of the owners and stockholders. In the 1930s, Mussolini was greatly admired in the United States, “He has made the trains run on time”. This admiration is understandable, since it is an expression of the human desire to bring order out of chaos.
What we are experiencing in the United States is a slow march toward the reestablishment of Fascist industrial policy in the United States. In the 1930s through 1950s, the FDR era was marked by governmental control over significant portions of our industrial base. Coupled with the natural alliance between the Democrats and the labor movement, the ultimate result was the elimination of the US steel and shipbuilding industries. Competition drove this work overseas to locations where production is cheaper. The only vestige of the large shipbuilding industry in the US is for military production. During the late 1970s (begun by Carter, ironically) and 1980s there was a move toward deregulation, which spurred competition, consumer choices, lower prices, and US global competitiveness in the airline, banking, and telecommunications industries. The computer and eventually Internet industries had the benefit of coming into being during this period of low regulation, allowing them to flourish. However, the last year has brought about the return of the FDR era industrial policies, with the (re)establishment of government control over the automotive, energy and financial sectors. Soon the healthcare industry will also be pulled underneath the fascist umbrella. There are also attempts underway to exert the same control over the Internet and Media. When the government controls industry, then they control our choices as consumers.
Government Entrenchment – The rise of Statism and the corresponding growth of the federal government leads to a burgeoning bureaucracy, which becomes self sustaining. Where private industry will grow and contract with the business cycles, government only knows how to grow. In Washington this week, everyone is elated that the healthcare bill is going to pass. Not because they are all altruistic in their desire to serve the needs of the sick. It is because it increases their job prospects. New agencies mean new Senior Executive Service slots will open up. More people will be promoted, leaving GS-14 and GS-15 billets open for them to move into. The vast majority of the federal workforce work for the executive branch, and they are delighted by the growth of government. It provides them with an expanded career path, without having to contemplate the risk of leaving government into private industry where performance, rather than seniority, is rewarded. I personally left the Federal Government as a GS-15, step 10. Given the current environment, I do wonder why I left. The collocation of the federal bureaucracy, industry lobbyists, and the legislative branch make for an insidious inter-dependency and community fabric which makes reduction of the bureaucracy difficult if not impossible.
Demographics – Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone, is a frightening look at the demographic disaster awaiting western civilization in the next 40 to 50 years. The major western countries, including the EU and Japan all have birthrates below the replacement rate. Socialism is at its heart a ponzi scheme dependant on the confiscation of wages of the young to provide services to the old and unproductive. Without a growing pool of young workers the social constructs cannot be sustained. In the EU, their solution is to prop up their entitlement infrastructure through the importation of workers, mostly Muslims. This plays directly into the hands of the Islamists, who use their immigrant population and higher than replacement rate growth rates to exert political power. The establishment of Sharia in Britain, the EU human rights commission overturning the Swiss minaret ban, and the persecution of Geert Wilder are examples of this growing political power. Brussels, the home of NATO, has a population of over 50% Muslim. Within 50 years, the EU will be a majority Muslim state, and Islamists will be in control of the governments.
At least the EU will survive. Japan has a cultural bias against the importation of foreign workers. Since Japanese women are giving birth at half the replacement rate, soon government entitlements providing services to the elderly will cause the destruction of their system. At a minimum, they will need to move toward heavy use of robotics for production, and switch to corporate taxation in order to pay for their socialized healthcare system. But the real problem for Japan will be the loss of human capital. Robotics are great for maintaining a manufacturing base, without people. But robots can’t provide innovation. Without people, Japan has no one to conceive of the next Nissan GTR, Playstation, or graphic novel. The nexus of innovation will move to China and India, where human capital remains at peak levels.
Finally, consider the former superpowers; the United States and Russia. The US is breeding above the replacement rate, much to the chagrin of the pro-death abortionists. However, the fastest breeding segment of our country is among Hispanics. This, of course, delights the Democrats, since they view the Hispanic community as their next natural captured political base, like the Black community is now. This helps to explain the views of George Bush and Karl Rove. They see a growing demographic that will become a significant part of the political process. They want to see them voting Republican, not Democrat. Of course, their method of achieving this, through mass amnesty for illegals and entitlement expansions only furthers the goals of the Statists, not Individual Liberty. They correctly recognize the problem, but their solutions only help a political party, not a guiding political philosophy. Russia on the other hand is dying a demographic death. They are breeding well below the replacement rate, and will begin to collapse into a demographic death within the next 30 years, without sufficient population to maintain their social structure. What becomes of their military structure, nuclear arsenal, and gas production resources at that point is anyone’s guess.
How to Fight
The problem with legislative victory in 2010 is that it will only delay the inevitable. Either Statists, Islamists, or the Chinese will inherit the Earth. It sure won’t be the meek or those advocating for Individual Liberty. Not unless we fight and find ways to win against our structural disadvantages.
The Academy – One of the advantages that social conservatives have is they tend to breed. Children are considered a joy and a blessing, rather than a burden upon society that will emit Gaia destroying CO2. But, with the exception of the home schoolers, we quickly give up our demographic advantage by turning our children over to the government for education, including a significant dose of indoctrination. It is no coincidence that the lesson plans and textbooks paint glowing reviews of FDR, ignore Reagan, and teach Global Warming as established scientific fact. We have lost control of the education agenda to the liberal teachers unions, and the Statists within the Department of Education. This only gets worse once they move on to college, where the Liberal agenda is the core operational value system. I’ve personally witnessed the effects of this. When visiting my daughter at high school for lunch one day, I overheard a group of teenage girls brutally teasing one boy, accusing him of being a Republican. This is in the reddest of red counties in Florida, where our entire state and congressional delegation is Republican.
We can’t wait for our children to get out of college and into the working world, before discovering Conservative political values. The high number of well paid Democrat voters in the financial sector should be a warning that political choices made early in life do not necessarily change. This is an area, especially at the secondary education level, where the Statists can be beat at their own game. Both state legislative and voter initiatives are often used to dictate the operation of the public schools. Many of the budget problems here in Florida are directly attributable to the class size amendment passed several years ago. There is nothing that stops us from enacting specific education initiatives that guarantee that legitimate political theory, actual historical fact, and non-politicized science be taught in our classrooms.
At the college level, again the Statist levers of control can be turned against them. The threat of withholding federal funds from the Universities has been used many times to encourage specific behavior. With legislative control, we need to enact specific education standards that eliminate the indoctrination of our youth. Additionally, we need to find ways to reach beyond the traditional teaching methods. We need initiatives like using YouTube to teach the values of capitalism, and the foundational principles of limited government.
Media – Brent Bozell argues that the traditional media of newspapers and network news are dying, while the new media is rising in prominence. While I can’t argue with this economic point, the MSM still wields enormous influence, especially when it comes to what they decide to NOT cover. The problem is that as long as there is a Liberal mouthpiece, which has no desire to report both sides of the story, then it gives the Liberals the forum and secondary citations to advance their cause in a disingenuous manner. They don’t have to argue the issues, they can just cite each other using the same talking points issued by the Democrat party.
While I understand the argument that they are becoming irrelevant, allow me to offer a personal story. I fly on Delta Airlines a great deal. I doubt that their management structure is specifically partisan, given their need to stay in business after their recent bankruptcy. However, every TV screen in Atlanta (the world’s busiest airport) is tuned to CNN. The satellite TV they offer on their flights allows you to watch two news cable channels, CNN and MSNBC. While they have a captured audience during the day you are flying with them, your only news source is shaped through Liberal opinion journalism. Their in-flight magazine is also hopelessly Liberal, featuring articles on green living, and a recent profile of Jimmy Carter.
I believe that in order to succeed, the proponents of Individual Liberty must fight for, and take control of the media, changing their editorial positions to ones of neutrality. Buying CNN or the New York Times, followed by demonstrated economic success of the new editorial model, will naturally erode the Statist positions. It will allow the failures of the Statist positions to be reported to the electorate, instead of just the promises and aspirations designed to appeal to emotional guilt. Just having Fox and the Wall Street Journal, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, makes it too easy to dismiss their commercial success and balanced reporting as “mouth pieces of the Republican Party”.
The DC Establishment – The concentration of political power in Washington DC is self fulfilling. Having the seat of government, the lobbyists representing business interests, and the federal bureaucracy all located in a single 100 square mile area does not encourage smaller government. If we want smaller government, we must break the power wielded by this insular community and force it to deal with the reality of the rest of the country. In this, I have a simple suggestion, once we regain control of Congress. Geographic dispersal has been effective for the US military. The center for space procurements is in Los Angeles, USTRANCOM is located in Dayton, Ohio, and our central Asian military operations are run out of Tampa Florida. Moving the federal departments out of DC and into the rest of the country will break the insular nature of the DC culture, while giving Congress an excuse to claim they are bringing “jobs to their communities”. Move the Energy to Tennessee, the FAA to Atlanta, NASA to Houston, and HUD to Detroit. Force them to live their lives in direct contact with the people whose lives they affect. In the process, reduce the influence and importance of the city of Washington, D.C.
Another tactic to use is to push toward privatization. While this is a half measure, since it ends up eliminating government jobs and replacing them with government regulated jobs, it moves us in the right direction. I’ve been flying out of Rochester, NY a lot recently and just noticed the other day that the security screeners are not TSA employees. They are a private company, using TSA guidelines. The experience going through security was the same as at an airport being serviced by TSA. This can be our own version of Mark Steyn’s “burn the bridges”. Once a function is being effectively performed by the private sector, it becomes difficult to make it a government function again. This is why the DoD no longer tries to write it’s own software. They use Defense Contractors. They no longer have the in-house capability to do systems development.
The Unions – I don’t want to even pretend to know how to break the power of the unions over our political process. I’d love to hear from Art what he thinks, since he understands Unions better than anyone else here. I suspect though, that we need a legislative overhaul of labor law in order to remove their ability to advocate for a single party through use of member dues, without the explicit permission of their members. While the argument is that they have the same right as a trade association or corporation to donate to a political party, the difference, especially with a union like SEIU, is that they are directly influencing the people who pay their salaries. In the private sector, that would be considered bribery.
Ethical Government and Transparency – At the beginning of this essay, I mentioned “a Constitutional Republic wielding limited federal powers, based on a strong capitalistic economic model, and guided by moral and ethical behavior”. Because of the inherent failings of human nature, we need to establish rules of behavior, especially in Congress, that encourages ethical behavior. In this area, I actually think that Obama promised a useful model during the campaign. Congressional legislative actions should be, by rule, conducted in the open. Earmarks should be specifically identified by the requesting member, and they should be required to publicly explain the rationale and benefit derived from the earmark. Appropriator terms should be limited. Proposed legislation should be posted online long enough for the voters to read and comment. Mechanisms to force members to listen to their constituents, such as public comment periods, should be employed. Many of these rules can be adopted simply by regaining the majority. However, if the Republicans simply fall back to using the same tactics the Democrats currently use on them, then the opportunity to change the rules of the game into our favor, will be lost.
This is an area where I believe the social conservatives need to lead the way. We need to find ways to act as the moral compass in defining the standards for ethical behavior and ethical legislation. No one on our side better understands the human need to show compassion and alleviate guilt. Rolling back the Statist agenda requires legislative alternatives that promote Individual Liberty while still addressing the emotional issues driving desire to act. At the same time, we must temper our own desires to legislate morality. I asked Pat Toomey once if a Conservative can win in Pennsylvania. He assured me that they can. I then asked why Santorum lost. He said that in Pennsylvania, the voters don’t like people to tell them how they should act. They will vote conservative, but once you start preaching to them, they will turn on you.
If you have stuck with my ramblings to the end, thank you. Mostly, I wrote this to help organize my own thoughts and help me understand better what I believe in. I don’t pretend that I have THE ANSWER. However, I worry that our call to FIGHT, will result in short term victory, which will have little effect in advancing our cause. We need a better strategy. We need to WIN.